Recommend me eight mega-light strings plz

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Tekkers, Jun 6, 2019.

  1. Tekkers


    Dec 16, 2018
    The situation: I have a single-course, 35” eight-string tuned F#-F in fourths and the strings feel quite heavy.
    It’s got a .175 anchor cable on the low F#, a regular six-string medium set for the B-C and then a wound .22 for the high F.
    All rounds and I’d be looking to keep them that way.

    I play quite a lot of tapping/touchstyle-y stuff with quite a few high register chords and the current set is too much. It’s quite fatiguing and I’m missing the resonant snappiness especially off the top ones when they’re tapped.

    I was considering guitar strings but not sure what effect this might have (fret buzz, weak tone, harder to play).
    I’d also like to keep a relatively even tension across the set, rather than having a ‘skinny top heavy bottom’ set.

    So, has anyone put fairly light strings on a bass before, and how did it work out?

    Also, any recommendations for string gauges, in terms of tension on a 35” and also that will be long enough to fit?

    Hoping that the TalkBass hive mind can give me a few pointers.
    I’ll have to order them individually online and I’m in the UK, if that makes a difference.
  2. ixlramp

    ixlramp Guest

    Jan 25, 2005
    Yes a .022 F is tight, and a standard 6 string set is too tight for tapping, especially on the higher strings.

    D'Addario guitar strings are long enough to reach the tuner nearest the nut if top-loaded, i use them on basses. Just thread an old detached bass ball-end onto the string to make the ball-end the right size. Then you can use cheap guitar strings for the F.

    Even a wound .020 will be tight at F, and .020-.022 roundwounds are fragile at F due to the thin core. You could try guitar wound .020, .018 but they may break. So it is difficult to have a low tension wound F string.
    Otherwise i suggest using a guitar plain steel string of around .016-.018. Dropping the tension of a plain steel relative to the wound next to it helps reduce its volume and mellow and blend it's tone.
    I play 6 string basses set up for tapping. I have found the optimum to be tension falling slightly and steadily from low to high, not equal tensions. (Tension falling from low to high is how Chapman Stick string sets are designed.)
    Tapping chords requires very low tension high strings, but the high mass very low strings require a certain minimum tension to support their vibration.
    If you tap but also use normal techniques, light bottom ultra-light top is optimum, to keep the lowest strings well tensioned.
    Why do you dislike such a change of tension?

    Tension falling slightly and steadily from low to high actually 'feels' even across the set, and has a more even playability and response. When you have a lot of strings, equal tensions 'feels' slightly top-heavy.
    However from E down i keep strings at equal tensions, as the stiffness disadvantage of continuing to increase tension outweighs the benefits of doing so.

    But yes if you keep all strings at a low and equal tension that should be ok for F# to F, but keep in mind the very low strings require at least roughly 25lbs to function properly.
    I suggest something like
    .160 .120 .090 .065 .050 .035 .025w .018p
    .145 .110 .080 .060 .045 .030 .022w .016p
    Then perfect each gauge by trial and error.
    Both are roughly equal tension sets.
    Always use singles, standard bass sets have top-heavy / middle-heavy tensions that are very unsuitable for tapping.

    If you want to go even lighter, i expect you cannot reduce the tensions of the lowest strings much more, but the higher strings will be fine at lower tensions, so you will then be forced to have tension falling from low to high.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2019
  3. ixlramp

    ixlramp Guest

    Jan 25, 2005
    Just for interest, not a suggestion, here are the gauges and tensions of the stock string set for the NS-Stick, an 8 string bass tapping instrument:

    .128 B 35lbs
    .092 E 33lbs
    .065 A 30lbs
    .044 D 25lbs
    .030 G 22lbs
    .020w C 18lbs
    .013p F 14lbs
    .011p Bb 17.5lbs
    gebass6 likes this.
  4. Tekkers


    Dec 16, 2018
    Awesome, thanks for the recommendations. I’ll order a few strings in the coming week and report back sure.